Five vegan dishes that exemplify LA’s innovation with plant-based foods

A giant spotlight is put on plant-based meals after Eleven Madison Park chef Daniel Humm makes a major announcement earlier this week. When his New York restaurant reopens on June 10, it will feature an all-vegan tasting menu for $ 335 and eliminate the unique dishes that have made its three-Michelin-starred restaurant a global sensation.

Reactions have been mixed: from those who support a chef known for his meat-making taking a step towards sustainability, to those who questioned its global impact, and to others who wondered aloud about the taste of the food. Some felt that Humm’s change was nothing new, as other gourmet chefs have made similar leaps into plant-based cooking, including Dominique Crenn, who in 2019 announced that it will no longer serve land animals in its restaurants. And while Wolfgang Puck’s menus aren’t plant-based, the LA chef served up a mostly vegan menu for the 2020 Oscars with dishes like sweet potato tempura and wild mushroom bolognese.

As an incredibly inventive chef, there’s no doubt that Humm’s menu will move plant-based meals to another realm. But Los Angeles has played an important role in the evolution of plant-based foods for decades, with some of the oldest Indian and Ethiopian restaurants in the country. The city also has chefs who take the whole genre forward by introducing new approaches that appeal to omnivores and vegans alike.

To illustrate some of those avant-garde, here are five herbal dishes in Los Angeles that showcase that innovation and creativity.

Note: We do our best to make sure our stories are up to date, but the menus change frequently. Please contact these restaurants to confirm that these menu items are still available.

The sopes duo at Chicana Vegana

Mid-2020, Jasmine Hernandez opened her family restaurant Vegan chicana. Located in the middle of downtown Fullerton, the bustling space speaks hardly vegan with neon pink and purple walls adorned with Latino cartoon characters and a flavorful dish: jackfruit sopes. Traditionally made with a base of fried masa or cornmeal and topped with pork or chicken, Chicana diners can replace the succulent jackfruit carnitas with shredded cabbage, herbal cream and cheese on a wonderfully masa. prepared. It’s all about technique and seasoning, which Hernandez has en masse.

Chicana Vegana sopes
Mona holmes

Korean waffles with mushrooms and kimchi

Michelle Jane Lee is an Los Angeles-based visual artist who had no prior experience cooking for crowds until she launched a vegan sit-down Korean tasting menu from her Lincoln Heights apartment in 2019 called Sung. Lee’s popular pop-up dinners took a hiatus during COVID-19, but still create some great takeaways, including his homage to Los Angeles with fried mushrooms and kimchi waffles.

Florentine smoked tofu at Plant Food + Wine

One of the common concerns of some vegans is to forgo eggs or butter. A traditional Florentine uses a healthy dose of both for the Dutch, but Fertilizer + Wine Owner Matthew Kenney’s smoked Florentine tofu has a certain richness that really shows his technique.

Carbonara pasta at Crossroads Kitchen

Chef Tal Ronnen opened Crossroads Kitchen in 2013, where he presented an all-vegetable menu with white tablecloths and a full bar. He introduced a pasta carbonara, complemented by a tomato-based “egg” egg yolk for added effect and flavor. The whole dish is a huge step forward in plant-based cooking, as fresh pasta usually requires the use of eggs.

Ronnen also co-founded Kite Hill Foods in 2014, introducing store-bought vegan cheeses that simply taste better and have more variety. This area has evolved considerably thanks to Ronnen and Plant Food + Wine’s Kenney.

Vegan al pastor de Masataco

Whittier’s plant-based restaurant tacos masa placed celeriac on a traditional trompo, topped it with pineapple, marinade and onion to produce something new and fun for Los Angeles. Masa Taco’s herbal asada was featured in 2019 at Dodger Stadium in a vegan takeover in the Left Field Pavillion.